Junior guard Melvin Johnson’s 23 points and sophomore guard Doug Brooks helped VCU eliminate the University of Richmond from the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. The final score was 70-67, VCU victory.
On Friday, March 13, the Rams’ beat the Spiders for the first time this season on the heels of their first half performance. Johnson shot light out from three in the first half, scoring 15 of his 23 points. The Bronx, New York native shot 5-6 from behind the arc.
Prior to the tournament game, Johnson shot a combined 3-10 against Richmond this season. Sophomore guard Doug Brooks added nine points for the game, scoring six points on 2-3 shooting from beyond the perimeter.
As a team, the Rams showed a huge improve from long-distance against the Spiders, shooting 8-13 from three in the first half. Against Richmond on Jan. 31, the team shot 1-8 in the first half. VCU followed that performance with an abysmal 1-10 in the first half on Feb. 25.
The upbeat affairs saw VCU shoot 13-25 from the floor in the first. Richmond shot slightly better scoring 16-26 behind senior guard Kendall Anthony’s 13 points. Anthony tallied a game-high 26 points in the contest.
Senior guard/forward Treveon Graham had a quiet first half, contributing two points. The second half would see the Freight Train be more aggressive in getting to the basket.
Graham finished with nine points, five of which was from the free-throw line. After shooting 1-6 for a two-point first half, the “Freight Train” would be more aggressive driving to the basket in the second.
VCU entered halftime with a one-point advantage, 37-36.
Trailing, the Spiders opened the half with an 12-3 scoring advantage to pull ahead 48-40. U or R would pull ahead with two separate 6-0 runs.
After cutting the Spiders lead to one with less than two minutes to play, Johnson passes to Brooks. The third three-pointer of the game gave VCU a 62-60 lead the team would not relinquish.
“I pat myself on the back for that one honestly,” said a laughing Johnson. “I would have tried to hit a home-run and shoot it myself. But I saw we were outnumbered. I saw Deion Taylor coming and I just made one more pass and I had a lot of trust in Doug.”
Shaka Smart, head coach, echoed the same sentiments.
“Doug’s three was as big as any of them from the corner,” said Smart.
VCU shot 22-53 for the game and finished 10-21 from beyond the perimeter. VCU would get to the charity line 19 times, making 16.
Sophomore guard JeQuan Lewis got into foul trouble early in the game finished with 10 points and three assists.
Redshirt-sophomore Mo Alie-Cox once again battled pressure under the basket but made 3-4 from the field for seven points and grabbed six rebounds.
Nine different Rams would score. VCU’s bench outscored U of R’s 30-7.
The Rams’ win eliminates the Spiders from the A-10 tournament for the second-straight year. Smart said he feels the team is ‘rebuilding and getting back to who they want to be,’ but a win against Richmond helps the process.
“This was a big day for that because our guys respect Richmond and how good of a team they are,” said Smart.